A boat begins to take in water and sink at the Santa Cruz Harbor in Santa Cruz, California
A boat begins to take in water and sink at the Santa Cruz Harbor in Santa Cruz, California Reuters

The damage to California from last week’s tsunami is expected to exceed $50 million.

The huge waves, which were triggered by Japan's cataclysmic earthquake thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, demolished boats, docks, and harbor equipment up and down the California coast.
One person was reported to have died in the tsunami.

Strong currents are still being reported in coastal areas like Crescent City and Santa Monica Bay.

According to press reports, Lori Dengler, a geology professor and director of the Humboldt Earthquake Education Center at Humboldt State, warned the damage estimates were preliminary — and would likely to climb.

It's going to go up, Dengler said. How far up, I'm not going to predict. This is an expensive event for California.

Lisa Ekers, the port director at the Santa Cruz harbor, one of the hardest hit locales, said 17 ships were sunk there, while about 50 others were severely damaged. She estimates that Santa Cruz suffered damages totaling about $22.5-million (raised from a prior $17-million estimate).

In Santa Barbara, waves swept away a barge and almost destroyed a 200-ton crane barge that became unmoored during the thrashing crush of sea wall.

The whole harbor entrance was kind of chaotic for about five hours, said Santa Barbara Patrol Officer Ryan Kelly.

All told, at least 18 boats sunk off the California coast and another 100 were damaged, with ten more missing and possibly lost at sea.

On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz.

“As we work to help our communities recover from this event, we are reminded once again of California’s vulnerability to all types of disasters,” said Acting Secretary of California Emergency Management Agency, Mike Dayton.

“It is critical that we all understand our risk of disaster and take the necessary steps to prepare ourselves and our families for when – not if – disaster will strike.”